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Published by Hamidur Rahman, 2019-11-27 08:07:58

Digital Technologies in the Classroom

Digital Technologies in the Classroom

Keywords: Technology,Teaching,Classroom

Digital technologies in the classroom

In recent years reference to ‘digital technology in the classroom’ (DTC) can be taken to mean digital processing
systems that encourage active learning, knowledge construction, inquiry, and exploration on the part of the
learners, and which allow for remote communication as well as data sharing to take place between teachers and/
or learners in different physical classroom locations. This is an expanded notion of technologies that recognises
their development from mere information delivery systems and also clarifies their role in classrooms in contrast
to their wider use across schools and learning centres.

What other terms are associated with digital technologies in the classroom?

Term Definition Example Benefit(s) Risk(s)
Bring your own learners bring their own
device (BYOD) technology into the mobile phone is used to greater range of difficult to control and
classroom for use as part browse the internet as technologies available and monitor usage
E-portfolios of the learning activity part of a research activity lower cost to institution
some learners may have
Flipped learners and teachers better devices than others
classroom create an electronic
catalogue of work that lack of teacher
tracks their learning understanding/ training
journey. This is usually
online and often uses a student portfolio of provides a way of quickly data security and
multimedia files artwork is presented and seamlessly presenting confidentiality
online through an a wide variety of material
learners discover new e-portfolio. This includes in different formats lack of teacher
content before the lesson scans of their sketches, including details of process understanding/ training
from online videos or photographs of displays
resources and then apply and visits to galleries,
this knowledge in more written reflections,
personalised work in the narrated videos of the
classroom artist (learner) at work and
an audio logbook

learners watch a video at more time for activities learners do not understand
home about how that promote deeper or are not able to access
sedimentary rocks are understanding and the flipped material
transformed into reflection
metamorphic rocks. In flipped learning is not
class they work in groups appropriate
to collaboratively create a
diagram explaining this misunderstandings arise
process of transformation that are not addressed in

lack of teacher
understanding/ training

ensuring resources are

Digital technologies in the classroom continued

Term Definition Example Benefit(s) Risk(s)

Personal a PLN is an individual’s links can be through, for access to a wide range of data security and
Learning loose collection of links example: perspectives and expertise confidentiality
Network with other people or beyond the confines of the
(PLN) resources. The aim of such online interest groups for physical institution accuracy of information
a network is to facilitate example on Twitter and/or
an exchange of ideas that access to the network
supports learning online and face-to-face
courses lack of teacher
understanding/ training

Virtual Learning a VLE is an e-learning Moodle easy way to collate and software can limit course
Environment education system that is Blackboard organise courses and structure
(VLE) web-based, but modelled information
on conventional face-to- high level of maintenance
face education. It provides flexibility of access
access to courses, course
content, assessments,
homework, links to
external resources etc

• Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) allow images from a – Emancipatory practice is that in which an individual
computer to be displayed through a digital projector, student’s ideas go beyond the learning prescribed by
onto a large (usually wall-mounted) board. Users can the teacher/syllabus as they draw on knowledge gained
interact with the content on the board using fingers or outside formal education to construct understanding.
a stylus. For example, in music lessons learners can use their
own knowledge and expertise of playing instruments
• Software Applications (Apps) are designed to operate or using technology to construct their own recording
on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet environments (perhaps using their mobile phone).
computers. They can then bring in ideas that they have created
at home or in instrumental music lessons.
• Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the World
Wide Web. Web 2.0 includes features and functionality • Different technologies can improve learning by
that were not available before, for example. podcasts, augmenting and connecting learning activities. For
blogs, wikis, RSS (Rich Site Summary – used for updating example, in a geography lesson two classes in different
regularly changing web content), social networking schools may link up via the internet to explore cultural
and tagging. differences in relation to a particular global issue such as
pollution or energy supply. The groups could work
What are the benefits of digital technologies together to understand not just the issue itself but its
in the classroom? impact on communities and individuals by talking to real
people. In situations where bandwidth is limited this
• The potential benefits of DTC are that it can foster could be done at a whole class level via video or even
dialogic and emancipatory practice. over email or SMS (Short Message Service) messaging.

– Dialogic practice is that in which students are active, • Digital technology can often also be exciting for learners
engaged and empowered participants in a conversation and offers a potentially more engaging alternative. At
from which learning emerges. For example, learners the same time it is important to be aware that some
working on a maths modelling programme can start to learners may be less confident in learning with digital
have conversations about what they see on a computer technologies and steps need to be taken to ensure
screen without having to rely on terminology that they equality of access.
may not yet have (look at ‘that’, what happens if you
do ‘this’?) The teacher can then add the appropriate • Digital technology offers immediate feedback for both
language into the conversation as the project develops. the learner and the teacher.

Digital technologies in the classroom continued

What are the challenges/criticisms of digital Practical tips:
technologies in the classroom?
How can schools support the use of digital
• A lot of time and resources are currently being invested technologies in the classroom?
into technologies and applications that have yet to be • Schools can allow teachers and learners the freedom to
proven to be effective or efficient when compared to
more traditional classroom learning contexts. Teachers explore potential new uses of devices and systems as
and schools need to think carefully about when, why and well as combinations of technologies into novel digital
how to use technologies as well as evaluating their environments. For example:
efficiency and effectiveness.
– Raspberry Pi is one way to encourage teachers and
• There is a ‘digital divide’ – the divide between those who learners to create technological solutions to problem-
have access to digital technology and the internet, and based tasks (see
those that do not.
– the Scratch programming interface is a further way of
• Implementing and then maintaining technology is costly encouraging learners to create their own environments
particularly as systems can quickly become out of date. and has been used to develop understanding in a wide
range of subjects (see
• There may be problems with the existing infrastructure,
for example internet connections may be inconsistent This will help to foster the effective dialogue and
and/or slow. emancipatory practice that is a component of deeper
critical understanding.
• Safety for students and teachers is a key challenge with
prevention of cyber-bullying, the hacking of personal • Teachers and learners should be encouraged to share
information, access to illegal or banned materials and their practice with each other in the classroom and
distractions from learning (such as social networking and more widely.
mobile phone use) all being high on institutional agendas.
How can teachers support the use of digital
• Some uses of technologies can be harmful. For example, technologies in the classroom?
poor posture and eyestrain are common problems when • Teachers can make the best use of technology in the
working at desktop computers for prolonged periods.
Also Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a risk that occurs classroom by developing their awareness of a range of
from the repeated actions necessary to control mobile digital technologies and considering carefully both how
devices. and why they can be used to support students’ learning.
Effective selection of software and devices is only part
• Evidence suggests that at the moment the potential of of the story. The consideration of what learning will
digital technologies in the classroom is not being realised. be achieved and how the technology may help is
A report on digital technologies from the charity Nesta in fundamental to its effective deployment.
the UK notes, “What is clear is that no technology has an
impact on learning in its own right; rather, its impact • The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation,
depends upon the way in which it is used” (2012:9). Modification, Redefinition) model developed by
Dr Ruben Puentedura is a useful reference when
considering the implementation of technology in the
classroom. The model (see below) shows the stages that
adopters of educational technology often follow as they
integrate their teaching and learning with technology.

Substitution Technology acts as a Instead of producing a handwritten
direct tool substitute, with report, learner types the report using
no functional change a word processor. Enhancement

Augmentation Technology acts as a Teacher adds comments electronically
direct tool substitute, with then emails the report back to learner.
function improvement

Modification Technology allows for Learner loads report onto a blog.
significant task redesign Other learners view and add comments.
Redefinition Technology allows for Instead of written report, learner
the creation of new tasks, produces online response including
previously inconceivable images, audio and video.

Digital technologies in the classroom continued

Why are digital technologies in the classroom How is Cambridge supporting schools with
relevant to Cambridge? digital technologies in the classroom?

DTC fosters active learning and this in turn can enable • As part of the suite of professional development
learners to attain higher grades based on their enhanced qualifications offered by Cambridge, teachers can
understanding (see Education Brief on active learning). undertake a certificate and/or diploma in Teaching with
It enables schools to link more effectively with Cambridge, Digital Technologies. These are designed to help teachers
for example it supports the examination process through use digital technologies effectively and appropriately in
computer-based and online assessment processes and supporting their students’ learning.
improves the efficiency of contact with examinations
centres. Cambridge also supports schools • In the Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Lower
that wish to prepare learners for the modern international Secondary programmes, suggestions are given on
world and the new technological possibilities available. how digital technologies can be utilised in the classroom.
We also provide online materials and an online platform
to help teachers and learners prepare for our Cambridge
Global Perspectives qualifications

Where can you find more information?

• Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R. eds (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-Learning.
London: Routledge.

• Cambridge professional development qualifications for Teaching with Digital Technologies:

• L uckin, R., Bligh, B., Manches, A., Ainsworth, S., Crook, C. and Noss, R. (2012) Decoding Learning: The Proof, Promise and
Potential of Digital Education. London: Nesta.

• Dr Ruben Puentedura’s Weblog:
• Wegerif, R. (2012) Dialogic: Education for the Internet Age. London: Routledge.
• Useful websites: Edudemic:, Association for Learning Technology:

Futurelab at NFER:
Acknowledgement: Dr Phil Kirkman

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